Art Forum

Art Forum is the Victorian College of the Arts' series of weekly talks by leading artists and curators. Providing a rich insight into their work and its relationship with the world, each guest speaker shares the themes, processes and ideas that drive their practice.

Upcoming Art Forums

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Previously having performed as a lead guitarist in über-hip rock bands as well as practicing as a visual artist, Masato Takasaka thinks about his studio practice in musical terms, describing his aesthetic as an iPod Shuffle: playing the greatest hits of 20th century avant-garde art, with references to constructivism, dada,pop and minimalism alongside the back catalogue of his own greatest hits.

Primarily working with found objects and materials to construct his gallery based installations, art and design history collide in Takasaka’s mini-cities. Described as “techno-contemporary”, the exuberant chaos of his sculptural practice involves a process of working and re-working everyday materials in inventive ways to make something new. Bent, crumpled and endlessly interacting surfaces of Takasaka’s work explore limitless formal possibilities and combinations. Takasaka continues to explore his own interest in the re-framing of existing images to investigate notions of pop-cultural ownership and rock history through the medium of the readymade and his trademark ‘alreadymade’.

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Zena Cumpston is a Barkandji woman with family connections to Broken Hill and Menindee in western New South Wales.  Zena works predominantly as a writer, curator and researcher, and is passionate about truth-telling and undertaking projects that directly benefit her community and Country. Most recently she curated the show Emu Sky for Science Gallery Melbourne, bringing together more than 30 Aboriginal community members from across south-eastern Australia. Running until July 2022, Emu Sky explores Aboriginal knowledge through artworks, research and storytelling, and is accompanied by an extensive education program. In 2022, her work as a co-author on several chapters of the State of the Environment Report was released. Zena's book 'Plants; past present and future conversations' co-authored with Professor Lesley Head and Associate Professor Michael-Shawn Fletcher, will be released in September 2022 as part of the First Knowledges series.

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Born and raised in Kharkiv, Ukraine, multimedia artist and curator, Irina Danilova examines her experience and presents a selection of international artworks collected from social media, including examples of the anonymous anti-war art in Russia, the War Journal series by Ukrainian/Bulgarian artist Alla Georgieva, artworks by USA artists, Lowel Darling, Bob Seng and Harley Spiller, along with introduction of young prominent Ukrainian installation and performance women artists, Olga Fedorova, Daria Koltsova, Maria Kulikovska, Natalia Lysova, Maria Proshkovska, Larisa Venediktova and their war related works.

Most of the anti-war artists in this presentation are women, given that the war is a predominantly male-run conflict. The majority of armies are male, the attributes of war, such as cannons and rockets, have somewhat phallic shapes, and the war started with the twisted ambition of an aggressive, psychologically challenged dictator. Anti war Art stands behind the defenders, the heroic Ukrainian men. Anti-war Art is part of the international effort to put together resources to repel the invasion and stop the War.

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Pakistan-based, Rashid Rana is widely considered to be one of the leading artists of his generation in South Asia today. He is amongst the pioneers of new media art in the region. Rana's diverse practice over the years includes dramatically different mediums such as paintings, photo mosaics, video installations, stainless steel and photo sculptures.

Notable for distinct pictorial strategies, Rana first came to prominence through his photo-based works that focus on the relation between the whole and its constituent parts. In these works, Rana transposes imagery from one time and place to another through manipulation, repetition and rearrangement. The viewer takes center stage in the deconstruction and acts as the active disruptor in Rana's transgression. His work powerfully calls into question the values associated with contemporary art, ritual, aesthetics, social history, and political structure. Over the last 15 years, he has explored these themes further through large-scale video installations that have been shown at major international venues, including the Pakistan pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale.

Rana's most recent work, the façade of the Pakistan Pavilion celebrating Pakistan's diversity at the Dubai Expo, received international acclaim. In 2017 Rana received the Asia Art Award from the Asia Society, and earlier this year, he was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan's highest civilian honor.

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Patricia Piccinini was born in Sierra Leone and lives in Australia. Her work encompasses sculpture, photography, video and drawing and her practice examines the increasingly nebulous boundary between the artificial and the natural as it appears in contemporary culture and ideas. Her surreal drawings, hybrid animals and vehicular creatures question the way that contemporary technology and culture changes our understanding of what it means to be human and wonders at our relationships with – and responsibilities towards – that which we create. While ethics are central, her approach is ambiguous and questioning rather than moralistic and didactic.

In 2003 her exhibition We Are Family represented Australia at the 50th Venice Biennale before touring to the Hara Museum, Tokyo. Other solo museum exhibitions include ComCiência at CCBB Brazil, Curious Affection at QAGOMA, Brisbane, En Kaerlig Verden at Arken, Copenhagen, Hold Me Close To Your Heart at Arter, Istanbul, as well as numerous solo and group shows and Biennials in Europe, UK, USA, South America, Asia and Australia. Notable groups exhibitions include The Universe and Art at Mori Art Museum, Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum and Face Up at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. She has also created two hot air balloon sculptures, The Skywhale (2013) and Skywhalepapa (2021). Her most recent exhibition, “A Miracle Constantly Repeated” occupied in the abandoned ballroom above Flinders Street Station in Melbourne.

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Natalie King is a curator, writer and senior researcher based in Naarm, Melbourne. Current projects include Curator of Yuki Kihara Paradise Camp, Aotearoa New Zealand at the 59th Venice Biennale 2022 and Series Editor of Mini Monographs with Thames & Hudson. In 2017, King was Curator of Tracey Moffatt: My Horizon, Australian Pavilion, the 57th Venice Art Biennale. King has realised projects in India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Italy, Thailand, Bangladesh, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Vietnam where she has explored Indigeneity, intersectionality, feminism, and new media. King is an Enterprise Professor of Visual Arts, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. In 2020, King was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for "service to the contemporary visual arts". She is President of AICA-Australia (International Association of Art Critics, Paris). In 2021, she was a recipient of a University of Melbourne Excellence Award: The Patricia Grimshaw Award for Mentor Excellence.

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David Thomas’ work explores the contemplative function of painting as a contemporary practice. Of particular interest to him is the ways in which new iterations of the monochrome tradition can explore the perception of time and space, complexity, impermanence, knowing and feeling. His exhibition Love Poem to Life currently on show at Heide Museum of Modern Art is a site-specific exhibition that responds to the history, architecture and atmosphere of Heide Modern.

David Thomas was born in Belfast N. Ireland in 1951. He was educated in Australia studying at the University of Melbourne, Monash University and RMIT University, where he is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Art. His work is held in numerous national and international private and public collections.

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Shelley Lasica is based in Naarm/Melbourne and has been working nationally and internationally for over four decades. Her practice has consistently engaged with the contexts and situations of presenting dance, choreography and performance. Interested in the collective and interdisciplinary possibilities of choreography, she performs her solo and ensemble works in dialogue with designers, writers and visual artists. Lasica’s choreographic works have been shown within visual art, theatre and festival contexts. These include the Melbourne Festival; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Chunky Move, Melbourne; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; Artspace, Sydney; Centre nationale de la danse, Paris; Siobhan Davies Studios, London; Dance Massive, Melbourne; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne. Lasica’s performance exhibition, When I am not there recently presented at Monash University Museum of Art, the first exhibition of its kind in Australia, was an important opportunity to reflect of forty years of her choreographic practice.

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Born in 1990 and raised in the coastal regions of the Eora Nation/Sydney, Archie Barry is an interdisciplinary visual artist. Their work is somatic and process-led, spanning performance, video, music composition, sculpture, illustration and writing. By cultivating a genealogy of personas based on their own experiences of power, mortality and multiplicity, they produce portraiture that troubles dominant notions of personhood and representation. Barry’s work has been presented at leading Australian institutions including The National Gallery of Victoria, The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Monash University Museum of Art, The Heide Museum of Modern Art and Contemporary Art Tasmania, amongst other spaces. They have undertaken a range of artist residencies including the FD13 Residency for the Arts in Minneapolis, USA, Visiting Artist Scholar at Parsons and The New School (School for Art, Media and Technology), New York, USA and Artist in Residence at Phasmid Studios, Berlin, Germany.
In 2019 they co-write (with artist Spence Messih) 'Clear Expectations: Guidelines for institutions, galleries and curators working with trans, non-binary and gender diverse artists in Australia', which has been widely received as a best practice document in Australia and internationally.
Barry is a graduate of the Masters of Contemporary Art at the VCA where they are currently a sessional lecturer in the Sculpture and Spatial Practice and Honours programs.

Dan Arps’ installations, sculptures, and paintings fuse architecture, public space, and nomadic structures to expand and reflect upon modernist traditions of abstraction, alienation, and the everyday. His work explores and responds to the environment of contemporary suburban Auckland.

Arps gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, Christchurch in 2000. He received a Master of Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland in 2006 followed by a Doctor of Fine Arts in 2014. In 2010 he was awarded Aotearoa New Zealand’s premier contemporary art award, the Walter’s Prize, for his exhibition Explaining Things by international judge Vicente Todolí. Arps has exhibited extensively in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, as well as taking part in multiple international projects. His work was included in Abject Failures, Hastings City Art Gallery (2018); Space Suit, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2018); Necessary Distraction: A painting show, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2015);  Local Knowledge, the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt (2011) and the Sao Paolo Biennale (2004).

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Jason Phu’s multi-disciplinary practice brings together a wide range of, sometimes contradictory, references from traditional ink paintings and calligraphy to mass-produced objects, everyday vernacular to official records, personal narratives to historical events. Working across drawing, installation, painting and performance, the artist frequently uses humour as a device to explore experiences of cultural dislocation.

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Previous Art Forums

Previous Art Forums can be viewed in the below playlist, dating back to 26 March 2020.

Supported by

Holding Redlich - Firm | Best Lawyers

The Victorian College of the Arts is grateful to Holding Redlich for its generous support of Art Forum.

Melbourne Reconciliation Network

Art Forum Semester Two is co-presented with the Melbourne Reconciliation Network.